Whenever I find it hard to say ‘No.’ I always hum and sing these words from the song ‘Save Yourself’ by Greg Johnson.
‘First you save yourself, then you save the world, but first you save yourself.’
I guess it kind of ties in with – ‘In order to love another, you must first love yourself’.
Today, I’ll share with you a stories of how I learned the true value of being able to say ‘No.’ -without feeling guilty or uncomfortable and why financial enabling isn’t helping and is actually more harmful than we realise.
There was a time in my life when assisting financially was something I embraced. It’s nice to help other people and I don’t even really live by this ‘Paying It Forward’ philosophy. I help because I want to help out; not because I expect anything in return.
Alright, maybe that’s a lie…
I do expect something in return.
I expect gratitude and respect (at the very least).
And maybe it’s my fault…
Because I allowed this to happen…
These stories are true and I am in no way blameless in these situations I found myself in. I will share with you lessons I’ve learned in the hopes that you can avoid the negative situations I found myself in.
They only get in touch when they need something
Out of all the things I will talk about below, this is probably what hurts the most. I noticed that after you give people what they want and need from you, they disappear faster than Barry Allen (The Flash). They just don’t get in touch the same way they used to. They just text and say, ‘I need your help.’ and they don’t even call to personally ask. There’s even a ‘meme’ going around on social media at the moment which says, ‘Kamusta?’ which means ‘How are you?’ can now be translated to ‘Can I borrow some money?’. That’s how bad things have become for so many financially abused people.
So, these financial abusers ask and expect that you would say ‘YES!’ (with as much enthusiasm as possible) without asking any questions back. I was raised to personally speak to someone (whether that’s in person or via phone call) to discuss important matters. The same goes when they say it’s bad manners to break up with someone over text. Some conversations need to happen in a personal way. I noticed that these people have never called me to personally ask and they don’t even bother thanking me via phone call either, they just type away and I’m lucky if I even get an emoji. What’s worse is that I only hear from them when they need me for something; but any other time, I have more chances of winning a free lottery ticket than hearing from the people I’ve assisted in one way or another. Someone I confronted about this even said, ‘It’s most likely because they feel ashamed for borrowing money from you. The same way I felt ashamed and so I didn’t contact you because I still had no updates and money to give and repay you.’
Well, my response to that was…
‘But they felt no shame in coming to me multiple times, asking me for the same thing- money? How come there’s no shame when it comes to taking advantage of my generosity and kindness?
It’s easy to get in touch on social media so I feel that there are no excuses left to hide behind the fact that they just can’t be bothered and don’t really care much about you (apart from when they need something). I felt so much resentment for a while because loved ones aren’t supposed to treat you this way right? Well, I finally accepted that sometimes, they may be your loved ones but that doesn’t mean that you are theirs. I also finally accepted that there are things in life we have no control over and that their actions are a reflection of their inner thoughts and feelings. It has nothing to do with you. When I finally realised this, I was able to understand the importance of loving and putting myself first because if I don’t, then who will?
You don’t have to sacrifice all the time
Many people end up sacrificing so much of themselves to help others that they forget about themselves. The harm in sacrificing too much and putting other people first, in my opinion is that, when you give too much and don’t look out for your own well-being, what more can you give in the future when they really need you? What happens when you end up feeling ill because you have exhausted yourself and all your resources? Those people you are helping and putting first clearly can’t help you because they are asking for your help so what happens when you’re all drained of everything? It’s important to remember that you don’t have to sacrifice all the time. You need to make sure you too, have enough and that you can save yourself when the going gets tough because if you don’t, then who will?
You teach them to be lazy and incompetetent
When people ask you for financial help and you give them the help in a heartbeat, you don’t give them the chance to figure things out on their own. It’s really harmful because they don’t gain the experience and learn the value of determination and hard work to earn something. I’m not saying that they’re not working hard but we all have to work really hard to earn money. There are many avenues they can take in order to get money. People take part time jobs and some people even sell some of their belongings during difficult times. Some people take out loans and they are responsible for repaying those loans back. I’ll be honest and say that I once borrowed on my credit card to lend someone money. I realise now how bad that decision was. I paid the interest on the loan just so I can help someone out. I risked myself financially for other people. Looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking. I was blinded by the guilt and my inability to say ‘No.’ When people get what they want instantly, you instantly teach them to be lazy and incompetent too. They may start to think ‘Ah well, I know they will help me anyway so I don’t really need to worry about how to pay for my bills next month.’
The thing is, they must absolutely worry and figure out a way to find a solution on their own. If you can see that they have done everything they possibly can to resolve their financial issues, then go ahead, help them if you can, but I suggest that you hold back and watch as they work on trying to fix their problems first before you step in. In the long run, you will find that they grow and become stronger individuals when they are pushed to finding their own solutions.
Money can’t buy love
A while ago, I thought that if I helped my loved ones out, they would know that I love and care for them. I felt like saying ‘No’ to helping them meant that I was rejecting them and telling them I don’t love them. Some people also think if they don’t get the help from their loved ones, that means that they are not cared for. Those assumptions are wrong. Money can’t buy love. No one has to feel guilty if they can’t help other people because no one chooses to let someone down just because they want to be mean and see you suffer. There are many reasons why people choose to say ‘No.’ There are also different factors and no one fully knows anyone’s circumstances.
Always remember that the people who truly love you will understand you if you can’t help them. Remember that no amount of money can buy you love. Love is love and it’s there no matter what.
Here’s an example.
I received a phone call about year ago or so from someone dear to me. They said that they were going through some financial troubles and needed my assistance- immediately. So, I ended up giving them a huge amount- which pretty much totalled to a house deposit. This wasn’t the first time this individual asked me for financial help and in the past, any money I had ever given them was never repaid. This wasn’t an issue because I know that the fact is (although it remains to be unspoken) any money I give them will never be repaid (It’s a cultural thing maybe) Any money I give them might as well be classed as a gift (because they never pay me back) and that’s okay. I was more than fine with that back then- which of course I know now is definitely the wrong mindset to have.
Within a couple of months or so, this person bought a brand new car and posted in on social media.
I didn’t say a word about what happened, what was borrowed or my sadness about what was lost because it was something which can’t be measured, more than any monetary value- it was ‘Trust’.
A year or so passed and I noticed that they didn’t congratulate me on my engagement. They didn’t make video or phone calls to me at all despite them knowing about the news. As a matter of fact, I haven’t spoken to them on the phone for about 3 or 4 years. Even when they borrowed money from me, it was only ever through text messages. I thought that giving them the financial help would help to bridge the distance between us and maybe encourage them to call more but I was wrong. There were still no phone calls and I rarely received messages. The hardest part was most probably when I realised how much I was taken advantage of and I was too blind to see it all for what it was- I was getting scammed. I noticed that they react and love posts from our mutual friends on Facebook and they don’t react or like any of mine. I doubt these people have given them any financial help at all and yet, they would rather maintain those relationships and keep me on the side-lines for those moments when they run out of cash.
They begin to expect help and get upset when they don’t get it
They say that when we help people, first they are grateful and the following times after that, they just end up expecting it and what’s worse is that they start becoming ungrateful. Avoid this trap and only help when you feel that you really need to. Financial enabling is harmful because you teach people to be ungrateful in the process. They probably don’t even mean to be but they end up being like it. It’s a hard pill to swallow but it’s true. People expect the help when they have received it over and over again and take anything you give for granted. They almost get so shocked the moment you say no to them, as if there’s a money tree in your garden.
If you think about it, you can’t keep helping others forever. What happens when you no longer have anything to give? Are you going to keep avoiding the day they get upset and no longer love you? I know that I was one of those people who was afraid to let other people down. It took many years of learning and many negative experiences to realise that, as I said above, money can’t buy love. You can keep thinking that by helping others, you can avoid upsetting anyone and that you keep everyone happy but really, ask yourself, how long can you keep going with this? How long can you go on pleasing other people while hurting yourself in the process?
You have your own obligations and responsibilities
We all have bills to pay and responsibilities. We have to feed and clothe ourselves and we may actually have others to feed too. I don’t have children of my own but I know that at this point, I want to save for me, my other half and our future. We all have goals and wishes to travel and enjoy our hard earned money. It’s important to prioritise and fulfil the obligations you have. It is our responsibility to look after our own affairs and let others take responsibility for their own life.
Be there for yourself
I understand that it’s important to be there for others to lean on but it is also important to be there for yourself because I found that some people are quite selfish in nature. They don’t think about whether or not you can afford to help them, they just ask anyway without feeling any guilt because deep down they are only thinking about themselves and couldn’t care less whether you are sacrificing or having to do without something in order to help them.
In times of trouble or emergencies, you will most likely find that many of those people you have helped at one point won’t be there for you. If they are, great! If they aren’t then at least you have put something aside for those ‘just in case’ moments. Always be there for yourself.